Environmental Ethics 38 (4):403-420 (2016)

Lantz Fleming Miller
University of Twente
In environmental ethics a debate has arisen over the extent to which the individual should make changes in personal lifestyle in a long-term program of ameliorating environmental degradation, as opposed to directing energies toward public-policy change. In opposition are the facts that an individual’s contribution to environmental degradation can only have a negligible effect. Public policy offers the only real hope for such massive coordinated effort, and environmental degradation is only one of many global problems to which ethi­cally oriented people must focus their attentions and energies. So far, the pro-personal responsibility side has urged that personal lifestyle changes are necessary for moral coher­ence, thus in turn for integrity of character, and lifestyle changes can affect others in a kind of chain reaction because humans are socially submerged beings. The stalemate here can only stymies the needed coordinated effort toward ameliorating environmental degradation. Further, moral concerns need to be brought into this issue; namely, the ramifications of pursuing a policy-only approach, emphasizing policy as the sole means of ameliorating environmental degradation, implicitly undercuts the role of individual agents in morality in general, in terms of individual responsibility, autonomy, and creativity in solving problems. All these problems not only bear on the program to reverse environmental degradation, but undermine other widely held moral values. Emphasizing personal lifestyle responsibility is not only the most moral alternative but is also the most assured way to affect long-term changes and the better way to make policy changes credible and sufficiently substantive for change.
Keywords Applied Philosophy  Contemporary Philosophy  Environmental Ethics  Social and Political Philosophy
Categories (categorize this paper)
ISBN(s) 0163-4275
DOI 10.5840/enviroethics201638435
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 69,066
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

No references found.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

The Case for Environmental Morality.Thomas Heyd - 2003 - Environmental Ethics 25 (1):5-24.
Economics, Ethics, and Long-Term Environmental Damages.Clive L. Spash - 1993 - Environmental Ethics 15 (2):117-132.
Pragmatism in Environmental Ethics.Robert E. Manning - 1999 - Environmental Ethics 21 (2):191-207.
Corporate Responsibility for Environmental Damage.J. Angelo Corlett - 1996 - Environmental Ethics 18 (2):195-207.
Environmental Philosophy After the End of Nature.Steven Vogel - 2002 - Environmental Ethics 24 (1):23-39.
The Moral Philosophy of Automobiles.Lantz Miller - 2012 - Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics 25 (5):637-655.
Foucault, the Consumer Culture and Environmental Degradation.Ron Wagler - 2009 - Ethics, Place and Environment 12 (3):331-336.


Added to PP index

Total views
41 ( #274,340 of 2,498,786 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
2 ( #279,813 of 2,498,786 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes